Panera Bread Now Lets Customers Personalize Their Mac & Cheese

With topping customization to turn your mac into an 'experience.'

You can’t say Panera Bread is afraid to shake things up a little bit. (To those who would disagree I say only double-bread bowl.)

The bakery-café chain’s latest creative menu move? It’s actually a move that lets its customers express their own culinary creativity — what Panera is calling its “new ‘Build Your Own Mac’ experience.”

Panera is taking its perennially popular Mac & Cheese (it sells at least three million servings of it each moth) and turning it into an “experience” by letting diners who place orders either online or via the chain’s app customize their dish with up to five toppings including bacon, avocado, smoked pulled chicken, pico de gallo, BBQ sauce, onions, and fresh cilantro.

Customized Mac & Cheese orders placed online or via the app can be delivered or eaten in a Panera location. And for those not into experimenting too much on their own, Panera is also offering three new “curated Mac & Cheese offerings” — Baja, BBQ Chicken and Bacon — to menus nationwide.

“Our Mac & Cheese is so well loved, the idea of messing with a great thing was something we did not take lightly,” Tom Sadler, Panera’s vice president of food and beverage product development, said in a statement. “But we also think food should be fun -- so we got into the kitchen and carefully selected toppings that we knew would complement our Mac & Cheese and offer fresh, exciting flavors. The new ‘Build Your Own Mac’ option gives guests one more layer of personalization to craft the flavor that’s perfect for them.”

And if you’re up for expressing yourself via Mac & Cheese in a group, Panera is also offering a “Build Your Own Mac Bar” as a catering option that is, it says, “perfect for an office celebration or gathering with friends and family.”

The family that customizes its own Mac & Cheese together …

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